SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You work for an organization called EMI can you tell us what they do?
Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is a missions organization made up of engineers, architects, and other design professionals that provide the design services for ministries around the developing world. Our projects focus on ministries that are actively sharing the Gospel and serving the community. This can be hospitals, schools, orphanages, churches, community centers, etc. EMI donates $4.4 million dollars a year in design services to ministries so they can focus on their local ministry at hand. Being centered on the person of Jesus, we hope to glorify God and see people restored by God and the world restored through design.
What was it that drew you to leave your job and start working with EMI?
God planted a seed in my heart when I went on my first mission trip to Kenya as a freshmen in college. I was studying civil engineering and had just finished an introduction to engineering which covered the basics of water sanitation. While at an orphanage, a little girl was very sick and near death due to dirty water. This was when I realized how impactful my education could be in developing communities. After college, I attended a discipleship program that truly opened my eyes to the Gospel of freedom from religion and into relationship with Jesus. With these two deep convictions in my heart, I decided to intern with EMI in the Middle East so I could serve developing communities while being with people bound by religion.
When I came back to the states, I wanted to gain experience as an engineer so I worked for a consulting firm in Texas. While I worked, I began volunteering with YoungLife – College to disciple young women. During this time in Texas I saw how discipleship and the true Gospel was lacking here in the states too. I was at work one day, somewhat frustrated that I just didn’t have enough time with my YL girls and struggling to make meaningful relationships with my coworkers, I got the news that the school I had designed in Gaza while I had been in the Middle East had gotten hit by an airstrike. Due to the bomb shelter standards the school was designed to, it was able to withstand the airstrike to protect 298 out of the 300 children. This is the last standing structure in that area and is now deemed a bomb shelter by the UN. This really was a moment God convicted me that my work could really impact people in developing communities if I was willing to give my ideas of a career to Him.
EMI at that time looking for an intern director. This role focuses on the discipleship of the interns worldwide; writing discipleship curriculum, recruiting, interviewing, mobilizing, training, and participating in one on one mentorship. This role is like a college pastor type role but would only take up about 75% of my time during the work week so there would be time to still work on projects as an engineer as well. I recently have added a role in development which helps in supporting our volunteers in the United States as missionaries in their local corporate contexts.
You spent some time in the Middle East, any memorable stories or experiences?
I was in the Middle East during the Arab Spring and the beginning of the Syrian civil war. There was no government in the country I was living in which made for conversations about the Gospel easy as people were desperate for stability and, with religion being part of the culture, God was part of every conversation. This actually broke so many stereotypes I had about people of the M*slm faith. I met so many people genuinely desiring truth but, like humans do, had trouble accepting the idea of unmerited grace and the atonement through Jesus’s blood. This really leveled the playing field when I think of people from different religious and cultural backgrounds as I interact with new people today. It completely solidified the belief that all humans are broken seeking truth and Jesus’s death and resurrection truly is the only answer to this problem we all have.
A memorable moment was when we traveled to Lebanon to work with a ministry that had evacuated during the war in 2006. By this point Lebanon had regained governing stability and was now the only religiously free country in the Middle East.
I remember being on site for the project and we were so close to the border of Syria we would hear shots at night and wake up to Syrian refugees asking for work but wanting us to pay them in either money or food to take back. While the ministry had evacuated years before, their entire site had been taken over by militia. The property had been used for a boys orphanage run by a Swiss doctor who was housing them and aiding the community with medical services.
As we walked through the site, the ministry had asked us which buildings were reusable. Beds were turned sideways, windows blown out, and our main concern was that the building walls were peppered with ammo. We were able to grab pieces of the walls as we went through each one sadly meaning that there was no structural stability making the buildings unsafe for use. This was hard for the ministry leaders to hear but they also had been praying for God to give a new vision knowing that this was a possibility. We sat and prayed with them for vision of this property. The ministry leader came back to say he wanted the site to be a place of peace for missionaries in the Middle East. We moved forward with providing the design for a retreat center in the mountains for missionaries. As we were there, Syrian men came to help dig holes and help remove parts of buildings and we got to share tea, life stories, and the Gospel with them. The birth of a new vision was taking place as the drawings came together and the ministry leader said this was the first time he had felt hope in years. He had hope that this place would be a place of peace for people who were fighting the spiritual fight in the dark tumultuous places around them. This project painted the picture (to me) of what the Gospel means and looks like on this side of heaven in so many ways.
In addition to working with EMI interns as your day job, you also have something neat happening in your neighborhood! Can you tell us about it?
I love my neighborhood! I just recently moved to the Hillside Community where my roommates and I have been trying to get to know our neighbors. We’ve been knocking on doors with cookies to try and build some relationships but we recently had a brunch on our front porch. It was great to connect people in the community and begin to build relational equity there. The Lord has also given a gift of meeting a couple people in the neighborhood from the Middle East. We’ve gotten to know each other and even have read the Word together some. My roommates and I hold weekly prayer nights (on Wednesdays at 7:30 PM) to pray for the nations, our neighbors, opportunities to share the love of Christ, and for our house to be a light in the neighborhood. Come join if you’d like!
Any advice you would give to others who are looking for ways to love others where they live, work and play?
I think sometimes we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be something we’re not supposed to be. We make people big and God small. For me, I had to release the idea that God wanted me to do things for Him and really trust that He wanted me to be with Him, like how Jesus came and was with us. As we are with Him, we begin to hold the fragrance of Christ (we can’t muster up that up on our own) which is the fragrance of life to some and death to others (2 Cor. 2:14-17). From this point (which I don’t have this nailed down by any means), I ask God to bring people in to my life that I can genuinely care for in my spheres of influence. We can trust that the Lord is already at work in other’s lives, they may not know it or be aware that God cares about that part of their life. We truly don’t have to try to make the Gospel applicable to people, it already is and we get to make that known to them. How exciting! So I guess my thoughts are throw a party because fun can bridge so many gaps. Be bold in getting to know people so ask questions that might be a little below the surface. And don’t be scared (Joshua 1:9 & 2 Timothy 1:7). They’re just people looking for the same thing you are, Jesus :).